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The Epstein-MIT Connection

The connection between Epstein and MIT continues to be troubling. Usually, where there is smoke there is fire. Unfortunately, it appears that there is much more to the Epstein-MIT story than we know. Obviously, there are many questions that need to get answered by MIT. Hopefully, the investigation that MIT is conducting will yield answers but there is definitely something that makes me uneasy about this entire matter.

I graduated from MIT with an MBA in 2018. Of course, I was so excited to get accepted and I was even more excited to attend such a tremendous institution of higher learning. I have been fortunate to attend many academic institutions in my life and career, but MIT was different; the place never locks its doors. Seriously, the place is always open for business. Everyone that I know that either attended MIT or works for MIT feels welcome by the institution. This is one of the reasons why this relationship with Epstein is so problematic.

I think that it is time for MIT to come clean about the Epstein matter as the university’s reputation is at stake and is impacting the student and alumni communities…

A couple of weeks ago the MIT alumni community received an email from the MIT President about the relationship between MIT and Epstein. Based upon that email it appeared that the university admittedly made some mistakes in taking in approximately $800,000 in over 20 years. It also seemed that the university came clean about not only its relationship with Epstein but also the former head of the Media Lab Joichi Ito’s relationship with Epstein. But, apparently and unfortunately, this was not true.

In a very well-written article by Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, MIT and Joichi Ito maintained a longstanding relationship with Epstein for many years. Based on the article, Epstein directly and through his contacts brought in millions to the university in the form of donations. What is most troubling is that MIT and Joichi Ito went to great lengths to not only continue the relationship with Epstein but also cover it up. It also appears that a pay-to-play culture existed at MIT, where Epstein paid for access to great and early-stage start-up companies.

Motivated by the Farrow article, this past Saturday, the President of MIT sent out another email to the MIT alumni community about the steps that MIT was undertaking and that Joichi Ito resigned. This email, to me is too late. The only reason that MIT is taking these measures is because of the New Yorker article. Why didn’t MIT come clean on its relationship with Epstein earlier? What really happened and why did it happen? The Farrow article describes that while Epstein was on the disqualified donor list the university, nonetheless, continued to take Epstein’s money and work around this disqualification flagging. Are MIT and other prestigious universities so money hungry that they are willing to turn a blind eye to these bad actors and allow them to benefit from the affiliation with the university?

This scandal is similar to the college cheating scandal where you pay to get your children into college. The difference here is that you pay to get an incredible affiliation with a tremendous university and also get early access to potential unicorn investment opportunities. With all of this being said, I think it’s time for the state attorneys general to get involved and conduct investigations. I also think that it is time for MIT to come clean about the Epstein matter as the university’s reputation is at stake and is impacting the student and alumni communities.